IT is not every day that a university lecturer turns one of his students into an alien — but that is what happened when Doctor Who’s “nemesis” visited Bolton.
Neill Gorton, the man who created everything from the Sontarans to the Cyberman in the hit television series, delivered his first lecture as a visiting professor of special effects at the University of Bolton.
The BAFTA-award winning Special Effects (SFX) expert spent a day with the students, even turning one into an alien.
He said: “I'm trying to explain what they face when they get out into the big wide world.
“It is a practical job. I don’t sit around writing reports, I make things.
“So I’m going to focus my teaching on making things. But it is also about understanding the industry you’re making things for.”
Mr Gorton started by making models in his garden shed. He would also read the end credits of TV shows he liked, then write to the programmes’ SFX person for advice and guidance.
He started his professional career as a runner at just 17 years old.
Mr Gorton added: “These courses are relatively new, from an academic sense. It’s only really been in the past 10 years they have become a more common thing.
“So, I think, it is important for people like myself, from industry, to come and get involved in this process, to guide it and make sure we have the best graduates and continue to have the best technicians in the world.”
He said the advent of Computer Generated Images (CGI) and digital effects would not spell the end for model making and prosthetics.
Mr Gorton said: “Everyone always thinks because of computers our role is dying, but it is in fact the opposite.
“The advance of CGI has actually made more work for us.
“True, you couldn’t and wouldn’t make the Harry Potter films or Lord of the Rings films without the digital effects, but all those films have prosthetics, so it generates more work for us.
“Studios will now go ahead and make those films that, before the advancement of CGI, would not have been made.
“So we’re not competing against each other; the two industries go hand-in-hand.”
Matt Wadge, aged 22, who was transformed by Mr Gorton, said: “It was pretty cool — a bit uncomfortable but a thrilling experience. It was great to get the opportunity see a BAFTA award winning make-up artist at work. Even if it was from behind the prosthetic.”
This is the second time in just days, special effects students have seen how the ghoulish and magical characters are created for film and screen.
Recently Kristyan Mallett who runs his own special effects company, Kristyan Mallett Makeup Effects, which is behind the characters in Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean, was a guest speaker at the University of Bolton.
As part of his presentation he transformed student 19-year-old Adam Jackson into a horned devil creature, who remained in character — in full make-up — throughout the day.
Adam said: “I got some funny reactions from people when I walked past them but overall people reacted really well to the make-up.”